Escobar keeps bidding to be an All-Star as he leads Royals past Twins

A strong showing by shortstop Alcides Escobar on the field and at the plate helped power the Royals to a 6-1 win Monday night.

Jim Mone/AP

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar continues to make his case to reach the All-Star Game on the very field where this year’s game will be played.

Escobar powered the Royals’ offense with a pair of two-run doubles that lifted the Royals to a 6-1 win over the Twins on Monday night.

Escobar got the Royals on the board in the second when he smoked a ball of the right-field fence to drive in Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas.

Escobar then got the Royals a bigger cushion with a two-run double into the left-center field gap in the eighth inning.

"I was just looking for a pitch in the zone," Escobar told FSKC’s Joel Goldberg after the game. "I got a changeup in the zone and I hit it good."

Danny Duffy was the beneficiary. Duffy cruised through the first four innings, allowing only a single and a walk. But he began to wobble in the fifth, and left the game with two outs in the sixth and two runners on. The Royals’ bullpen took it from there and shut down the Twins.

3 UP

— Herrera’s shutdown inning. Right-hander Kelvin Herrera did another terrific job putting out the fire. Herrera came on in the bottom of the seventh with the Twins trailing only 4-1, with two runners on. Herrera came in to face Brian Dozier, who has home-run power, and got Dozier on a fly to left. Herrera then got Kurt Suzuki on a hard grounder to third — Moustakas made a great play to his right and got to the bag for the third out. Herrera then pitched the eighth after the Royals pushed the cushion to 6-1.

— Gordo’s heads-up play. Alex Gordon does a lot of little things to help the Royals win, and you saw it again Monday. After his leadoff double in the fourth, Perez hit a grounder to third and it seemed Gordon wouldn’t advance. But Gordon waited until Trevor Plouffe fielded the ball and began throwing to first — then Gordon took off and made it to third with one out. He then scored on Omar Infante’s single.

— Flipping the record. Remember when the Royals started the season by struggling against the AL Central (5-15)? Talk show hosts immediately were in a panic, not realizing that these things tend to balance out, especially for a contender such as the Royals. And with Monday’s win, the Royals have now won 10 of their past 11 against division rivals, and now are 15-16 in division games.

3 DOWN


— Billy and top-hand release. Billy Butler had an awful night, grounding out four times, two of which were turned into double plays. Butler killed the first inning after Eric Hosmer singled with one out. Butler promptly rolled into a 4-6-3 double play, his 11th of the season. The bigger one came in the seventh when Jarrod Dyson led off with a triple. With one out, the Twins intentionally walked Hosmer. Butler went after the very first pitch and rolled into another routine 4-6-3 double play. The cause of those ground balls? Butler tends to let his right hand dominate during the swing when he struggles, which causes the bat head to roll over, resulting in ground balls. When he was hitting well — especially for power two years ago (29 homers) — Butler tends to have more of a top-hand release, which let the bat flow through the zone on a level plane longer.

— A rare bad night for LoCain. This was a night Lorenzo Cain would like to forget. After coming through with a four-hit, three-double game Sunday, Cain came back by striking out his first three times up Monday. Then after Dyson’s leadoff triple in the seventh, Cain could not get him in with the infield drawn in. Cain popped out to short right field, then struck out again in the ninth.

— Get a closer, Oakland. The A’s have not yet identified a closer and it cost them again Monday night (and, consequently, the Royals). The A’s had a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead in the ningth — but Detroit’s Rajai Davis belted a walk-off grand slam, costing the Royals a chance to creep with 2 1/2 games of first.

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.